Just a few blocks from the main campus of UCLA in L.A.’s Westwood neighborhood, this mostly-modern-art museum (known locally as “the Hammer”) is run by UCLA’s School of Arts and Architecture. Built to house the extensive art collection of petroleum magnate Armand Hammer, the distinctive glass-and-stone striped museum was opened in late 1990, just a few days after Hammer’s death.
Set on almost all of an especially busy block of Wilshire Boulevard, the three-story Hammer is built largely around a quiet courtyard with a lunch and refreshments kiosk run by a popular Hollywood restaurant, Ammo. Literary readings and classical concerts are held here on weekends throughout the summer.
Individual galleries at the museum are organized by either artist or genre, with a special focus on Baroque, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, and large collections of prints, drawings and graphic arts from various eras. Free tours of the galleries and special exhibitions are given by UCLA student-docents on Thursdays at 6:45 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m.
Set just three blocks from the Wilshire Boulevard exit off the 405 freeway, there is an on-site parking lot available ($3 for 3 hours, with validation). A $5 discount on full-price admission to the museum is offered to those who get here by bus and present a Metro farecard; the Hammer is on the Wilshire routes for several bus lines.
Instrumental in creating L.A.’s first Biennial in 2012, the Hammer will be the exclusive host for the next Los Angeles Biennial, in 2014.